Driving at night is challenging. You have to contend with reduced visibility and slower reaction times, not to mention that you’re probably also tired because it’s well past your bedtime. Fog lights are designed to help you see better when driving at night in foggy or rainy conditions, with better results than regular headlights alone can provide.
But do they really work? And should you use them? Here’s what you need to know about using fog lights on your commute:
Can You Use Fog Lights During Nighttime?
As the name states, fog lights are used to improve visibility in low-light conditions. Typically, that would include night, right? Not quite.
They’re typically used as an additional headlight, but they cannot be used as a replacement for headlights. Moreover, in some states, it is illegal to have only your fog lights on as they were created to work in conjunction with low-beam headlights. In Florida, for example, the use of fog lights is illegal unless there are other vehicles on the road, unless in foggy conditions.
The explanation is simple: since the fog light only illuminates up to several feet of ground in front of your vehicle, it won’t help you see what’s coming at you from the road ahead at a greater distance, such as obstructions like road work.
Fog lights aren’t as bright as regular headlights because they’re designed to produce light that’s spread out over a wider area (like a fan) rather than focused on one spot (like a spotlight). They also don’t use as much wattage as headlights, which means they won’t blind other drivers and give you away if someone tries to sneak up behind you.
Furthermore, fog lamps are designed for an entirely different purpose than these other types of lighting—they’re meant to help drivers see when there’s a lot of water vapor in the air, which can reduce visibility and make it hard for drivers on the road ahead (or behind) to see what’s going on with their vehicles or surroundings.
As such, the answer is not that simple. Technically, unless the law specifies otherwise, using your fog lights during the night can be helpful, but IF THE DRIVING CIRCUMSTANCES IMPLY POOR VISIBILITY DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER CONDITIONS.
When Should You Use Your Fog Lights?
Fog lights are meant to be used when visibility is less than 1000 feet. This is the legal definition of fog, and your fog lights should only be used when you encounter them. If you are driving in an area with no fog, don’t use them!
Fog lights will not help on dry roads. Their purpose is to improve your visibility in heavy rain or snowfall—whether that’s at 4 a.m., 6 p.m., or any time during daylight hours.
Fog lights were initially created to offer greater visibility during foggy conditions, but they’re now often used on roads affected by heavy rain, dust, mist, or snowfall.
Nighttime Driving: Foggy Even Without the Fog
Let’s face it: the night hours see the highest crash rates. From a statistical point of view, the number of road fatalities is 3 to 4 times higher at night than during the day, as most collisions happen at twilight or darkness.
- At night, your eyesight is substantially impaired;
- The headlights of other cars may briefly render you blind (light pollution);
- More people are likely to drive at night when they are drowsy or intoxicated.
Your eyes are built to see in daylight, so they need light to see.
The retina is the most sensitive part of your eye, and it contains two types of photoreceptor cells: rods and cones. Rods are responsible for low-light vision because they are more sensitive than cones. However, Rods cannot detect color; this is why we can’t see our friends’ faces at night when they’re wearing black clothes (or even just dark ones).
Cones work best when there’s plenty of light around them – they perceive color based on how much red, green, or blue light reaches them from different sources. The human eye has about 7 million cones making up about 30% of our cone cells. In comparison, 120 million rod cells make up about 70% of our rod cells, meaning that rods make up over 90%!
As such, you ought to be extra careful when driving at night. Make sure to use your foggies when the weather makes the nighttime drive harder to navigate.
Can Fog Lights Be Helpful At Night?
The short answer: yes. Fog lights can be a massive help in low-visibility situations. If you live somewhere with frequent fog, you probably know what it’s like to be driving at night and suddenly find yourself without visibility. The same applies to rain and snow—fog lights can improve your chances of staying safe when visibility drops drastically.
How Do Fog Lights Help At Night?
- Seeing where you’re going when it’s hard to see because it’s dark out;
- They make it easier for other drivers to detect where they are and how fast they’re going—more critical than ever when visibility is limited;
- You can see objects directly in front of your vehicle more clearly, helping prevent accidents and damage to property;
- They make it easier for other drivers to detect where they are and how fast they’re going—more important than ever when visibility is limited.
Different Strokes For Different Folks
It is crucial to understand that different states have different law requirements for automotive lighting, especially auxiliary lights. Notably, there may be laws governing the usage of fog lamps when there are other vehicles on the road.
For example, in Oregon and other states, the use of fog lights is also forbidden when you are 500 feet or less from an approaching vehicle or 350 feet if you are following another car.
Nighttime Foggy Driving Conditions: Best practices
You didn’t ask, but we’re going to answer anyway.
Fog lights can indeed make a difference if they are correctly mounted and used when necessary. However, as you most likely know by now, you are not obliged by the law to have them installed. Despite their benefits and the added layer of safety, fog lamps alone may not be enough in some scenarios.
As such, in case it’s been a while since you’ve opened that dusty drivers’ manual, here’s a reminder of the extra safety measures you should take when driving in improper weather conditions.
- When the fog rolls in, dig out your old pair of glasses and slow down enough so you can stop safely within the distance you can see. You’ll need to be aware of your surroundings so that you do not get into a car accident;
In addition, since fog takes away a significant amount of visual information, make sure to regularly check your speedometer – be aware that fog makes it easy to speed up without realizing that you’re doing so.
- No matter the time of the day or night, make sure to turn on your low beam headlights and fog lights (if your car has them). Avoid using your high beams as their point their light upward and into the fog, which reflects back into your eyes and causes glare – that makes it even more difficult for you to see the road ahead;
By using both your low beams and fog lights at night or in foggy conditions, not only will you avoid blinding other drivers, but you’ll be able to see the road more clearly. As such, put your high beams in the back of the car, and remember… don’t use ’em if it isn’t indispensable.
- In a world where people may take their eyesight for granted, it’s important to remember that excellent vision is more than just a luxury — it can be a lifesaver. Always wear your prescription glasses or contacts when driving at night, and don’t forget all the other reasons you should always wear them;
In addition, it is not recommended to wear tinted contact lenses or sunglasses while driving at night.
- When feasible, use your high-beam headlights. This encompasses wide-open spaces and pitch-black city alleys. In order to prevent blinding the driver of an approaching car, turn down your lights;
- Avoid staring straight into the headlights of approaching vehicles if their lights are very bright;
- Keep an eye on the lane’s right edge;
- Use your peripheral vision to spot approaching cars;
- When you use your high beam headlights in a foggy area, you’re merely making it more difficult for yourself and the other drivers on the road. If you’re concerned about visibility, turn them off and proceed more slowly;
- It is far more challenging to notice pedestrians, bicycles, and motorcycles at night. Be on guard as the majority of them have just one taillight;
- Nighttime work on highways is possible. In areas with highway construction, make sure to slow down;
- Drive carefully after leaving a brightly lighted area to give your eyes time to acclimate to the darkness;
- When a car is approaching you with one light on, slowly veer as far to the right as you can. It may be a motorcyclist, a cyclist, or a car without one headlight.
Nighttime Snowy Driving Conditions: Best Practices
- Use your low beam headlights, together with your fog lamps. This makes you more noticeable to other motorists.
- Your car is your home, so be sure to keep it clean and safe during winter. Before driving in the snow, make sure all windows are clear — the driver of a moving vehicle may be penalized if snow or ice from that vehicle causes significant injury or death to another vehicle or person.
- Don’t let your lights get in the way of your visibility. Clean them off well, and you’ll have a better chance of being seen on the road. A filthy headlight produces more than 50% less light, so make sure you remove all snow, ice, or dirt from your headlights, taillights, and directional signals.
- Make sure your engine is warm before you go behind the wheel. Give that defroster a chance to do its thing by driving the car for about five minutes when it’s cold outside. It’s not just for warm days: The warmer your engine is, the easier it will be to wipe off any ice or snow from your windshield
- Keep your windshield as clear as possible in the winter by turning on your windshield wipers, which will help scrape off any ice or snow that cakes onto the glass. Be sure your washer reservoir is filled with non-freezing fluid and use it often, so you don’t get stuck in traffic, especially on a snowy night
- When you’re driving during cold weather, the windows often get all fogged up. You can use your car’s defroster to solve this problem by holding down the fan speed button until it gets to the highest setting. Turn on your defroster, and wait for it to warm up. When you see steam coming out of the vent, wipe across the window with your cloth to clean it. For instructions on how to use the defroster settings in your car, consult the owner’s handbook.
- At the first indication of rain, drizzle, or snow on the road, slow down.
Always Remember: Use Your Low Beam Headlights Together With Your Fog Lights
Why not fog lights AND high beam headlights? They add more light, so you may be tempted to believe that it should work better. However, this rationale can be deemed as wrong since driving with too much light may have counterintuitive effects.
Why? The answer to this question is simple: light pollution.
The glare of headlights from other cars, street lights, and even the moon can make it difficult for our eyes to adjust to the dark. If you’re driving at night and someone shines their lights into your eyes, it can leave you temporarily blinded—even if they’re just turning onto a different road or lane.
We’ve all been there—you’re in a car with friends, and suddenly everyone starts squinting at each other because someone has turned on their full headlight beam directly in front of them!
This is not the time for a high beam showdown. Swerving all over the road makes it difficult for the other driver to see you, and vice-versa. As long as you drive responsibly, stay within the speed limit, keep your hands at a safe distance from the wheel, and don’t text while driving, you shouldn’t have any problems on the road.
You may not be able to see well at night, but there are ways around it. Fog lights can help increase visibility when driving at night. You should always use your headlights as well, though, so that you don’t blind yourself!
We hope that we have answered your question on whether or not fog lights are worth using at night. You should have a better understanding of how to use them, as well as the benefits they can provide. It is always important to be safe while driving on the road and make sure that you have enough visibility at all times.